I wanted to share some quick impressions on my search for a new full sized headphone. Practicality and portability are important to me. I travel often and they need to be durable and able to be powered off of a portable amp and the occasional laptop/iphone/sansa. I am in NYC this week for work and decided to buy several contenders to see which one best matched my preferences.
I used to use Denon D2000s. Loved them across all genres, but traveling with them tended to break the attachment of the driver to the band. After two warranty replacements I sold them. I use Shure 315 IEMs for workouts/airplanes and enjoy their signature. My temporary full size headphone has been the Superlux HD681. I use the full size headphones at home and in hotels for music and movies. The Superlux is a fantastic performer for the money, but I was missing the quality of the Denon.
AKG Q701 - I know this is a very different signature than the Denon, but I was always curious about the K701.
AKG K550 - I only became familiar with these this week and read most of the threads here.
Sennheiser HD 598 - I had some 598s way back in the day before owning some Koss ESP 950s. Haven't been exposed to the Senn sound for some time.
I wanted to keep the budget under $300.
System: Macbook Air - FLAC - USB - FIIO E17
Musical Preferences - Folk Rock, Jazz, Classical, Modern Rock, Live Concert Recordings.
- Q701 - loved the feel of the headphone. Super comfortable. Nice build quality. Initial good impressions, but I kept turning the volume down with songs with higher frequency content. I was missing the body of the Denons on tunes with good bass lines. As much as I wanted to like them they just didn't engage me. Most likely under amped by the E17, but unwilling to invest more in a higher powered amp. I actually found the Superlux more engaging after trimming the high frequencies a bit.
- Senn 598 - Looked like a grandma's Lincoln Town Car with the beige and fake wood. Warm, dynamic, but lacking enough detail for my taste. I didn't listen long. My initial impression was pretty strong.
- K550 - First, the build is fantastic. Metal>Plastic. The folding cups is a killer feature for me. I can fit them in my small travel bag with the Macbook Air and have great sound in a small package. Sound - more body, enough detail. Dynamics that sound like music. Obviously less flat and reference than the 701s, but I enjoyed the tunes I was listening to across genres. Also, they don't need the E17 to sound decent. Respectable results from portable sources and straight out of the mac. Ears get a bit hot from the sealed pleather cups.
I think the K550 is my headphone for practical and sound quality reasons.
Edited by orbilius - 9/11/12 at 4:46pm